When I hear from people who have been moved by a teacher, presenter, author, or leader it seems that while the material is important, the stories are what they remember.
However, it is more than just a story.
It is a story whose message reinforces the behavior that the person wrote or spoke about.
This was brought home recently after a presentation by Bob Murphy for an Studer Community Institute on customer service. On a 10-point rating system Bob received a 9.9.
Afterward, I sent a request to some of the attendees. I was curious: Based on what they heard, what did they plan on putting into action when returning to work? What was one thing they will either start, increase, reduce or stop doing at work?
The responses I received mentioned things like better service recovery when a customer is not satisfied, more intentional questions when engaging employees, the Ritz Carlton “5-and 10-foot rule.” That means employees make eye contact when within 10 feet of a customer and greet at a distance of five feet.
More than 140 people left Bob’s presentation with more skills and tools to create great customer service than when their day started. This is great.
Gallup created a path to profitability. On the path is skill-building for people in leadership. Leaders then work with staff to help them acquire the skills for great customer service, then the customer receives that great service. This leads to more same-store sales, more repeat customers and positive word of mouth. This leads to more customers.
This path then leads to profitability and a growing and sustainable business.
While nothing I write can match experiencing Bob’s presentation, here are some of Bob’s tips in delivering great service.
As you read in almost every column: Start with the why. Answer why great customer service is a must and why it helps make the work place better for the employee. Happy customers are more pleasant and more happy customers creates much better job security. This works especially well if the value of high customer satisfaction is connected to your company’s mission and values.
When a customer is going to hear a “no” find something to say “yes” to. This may not make up for the no, but, it will create some gain in the relationship. Here is a common example: At Blue Wahoos games, a fan sees an empty seat close to the field. They ask if they can sit there. While the seat is empty, it was reserved by someone. Though they may not come to the game, it is not right to have someone who did not buy the seat or bought a less expensive seat to sit there. The answer will be a no.
So, the staff person can just say “no,” but the right thing to do is offer that fan other options, such as a different seat in a different area. The staffer also can show them how to go to our “ticket share” program to acquire seats like it.
Create a culture where all employees feel comfortable and empowered to fix the customer service issue. The term service recovery is used to describe making a bad situation right, or at least better. The closer to the customer concern or complaint that service recovery can take place, the better. If an employee says, “let me speak to the manager,” or “I will share this with the manager,” the opportunity is lost. I have found the managers most often fix the situation, from reducing a payment, adding something like free desserts in a restaurant, and several other options. A company in Chicago had a rule that every employee was empowered to fix an issue up to $250. They did have to document the issue and the dollars used. This log helps management also know what training is needed if either too many or too few dollars are being used. What the organization’s biggest issue ended up being was getting employees to be more aggressive in fixing the issue with those dollars. That’s because for so long, it had been built into the workplace DNA that employees did not have this freedom. There will be some missteps, but the overall message becomes more satisfied customers, better word of mouth and a message to the employees that we trust you. All of those things far outweigh any downside.
Connect with the customer after the experience. This depends on the type of customer. Many times, a customer will not receive an email or text. If you want to really make a difference, make it a phone call. This personal touch will have an impact. Make it more than how are things. For example, ask specific questions about the product purchased. Even if the customer says things fine, ask if there is anything that could have been done better? Let the customer know that you like to recognize people and are there any employees they think should be recognized. This has wins from process improvement to staff receiving recognition.
There are many more tips that Bob provided. How fortunate we are to have him living right here in Northwest Florida. Let’s continue to make sure every customer as the best experience possible. It helps create jobs. Better service, more customers and more jobs.